If you look closely, you’ll see the wheels look like two-dimensional cutouts. Once seen, this flaw is hard to unsee. It undermines the integrity of the product photography as a whole, and makes our client look bad. But rather than start again with a new shoot just to get the right wheels, we can instead superimpose a better option using pickup shots of wheels with the right specification.
In this particular job, the wheel was supplied on its own and we shot it in our own studio, allowing us to match the lighting as required and in very short order. This way we were able to substitute a thoroughly believable “transplant” with relative ease. Of course, we still need skill our keen eye for proportion. But in doing this, we greatly reduce the need for illustration, significantly easing our task.
Once obtained, the process is smooth sailing. Using the pen tool in Photoshop, we trace the pickup wheel to select it, then duplicate it onto the original image. Adjusting the size and placement of the new wheels, we can superimpose the new element with care to match the desired positioning.
All that remains is to blend the added element through adjustment of tone and colour balance, so that it looks as though it was always there. Using a semi-transparent version of the original, we can position and even subtly distort this new segment until it fits seamlessly into the rest of the body. The eye will not pick up on this subtlety, but a good retoucher’s talent lies in knowing how much they can bend the rules. By working in layers, we avoid wrecking the base image if a mistake is made – a technique known as ‘non-destructive editing.’ Once positioned correctly, we make the necessary tonal adjustments until the new wheel looks like it was always there.
Through an expedient pickup shoot and judicious retouching, this image is now perfect, and all without the expense and hassle of a complete reshoot.